When Lucy Laurenzana woke up on the second day of March her back hurt, her knees ached, and if she didn’t know better she would swear that she’d just spent the night sleeping on a barbecue grill. Staring across the living room and into the kitchen where she could see the pile of unwashed dishes from the night before, Lucy wished for the millionth time that she could afford a two-bedroom apartment so she wouldn’t have to sleep in the living room on a crappy old sofa bed her cousin had given her.
If only she had some money. Or a better paying job. Her thoughts took a darker turn. If only she hadn’t had
Lucy stopped herself. She loved her son more than life itself. He gave her a reason to get up in the mornings and she couldn’t imagine her life without him squarely in the center of it. If only his father was part of the picture. Then Lucy would have someone to share both the joys and sorrows of raising her son.
Throwing back the covers, Lucy swung her legs over the side of the sofa bed. It was pointless to imagine how different her life—and
’s—would be if his father wasn’t such a
pathetic loser. “What was I thinking?” Lucy muttered to herself. “How could I
ever have let someone like Dick Thomas even touch me, much less impregnate me?” Pierre
Fixing herself a pot of coffee, Lucy reflected that she must have been temporarily insane when she had sex with Dan. There was no other plausible reason. And now she worked for the man at the new charter school in Schuyler Square. Obviously her insanity wasn't temporary.
Dick was known around town as an incurable Don Juan and in his younger and stronger days use to have his trysts in a small tent perched on the bluffs overlooking Schuyler Square. How his wife tolerated him and his endless flings was beyond Lucy’s power of imagination. If she had been his wife, she would have murdered him a long time ago.
Lucy could still remember the first time Dick had taken her to the tent. They had driven up there in separate cars, of course, and throughout the drive Lucy had been almost jumping out of her skin in anticipation. The rumors she’d heard about Dick and his skills as a lover led her to believe that she was in for an afternoon delight that would take her to heights of passion that none of her former boyfriends had even come close to scaling.
Wrong. Maybe in his younger days Dick had been something to talk about but when Lucy finally had the opportunity to sample his charms she was as disappointed as she’d be after ordering a seven-course meal and ending up with the diet plate.
“So why did I keep going back for more?” Lucy asked the coffeemaker. “Why didn’t I stop before he knocked me up?”
Lucy sighed. None of that really mattered. What was done was done. And she did love
, in spite of the
fact that Dick refused to have anything—emotionally or financially—with their
son. Dick claimed it was because she’d given their baby a “fruity” name. Why the hell did you pick " Pierre ’?
he’d demanded. Why didn’t you name him
something macho, like Brick or Chuck? And he’d refused flat out to sign the
birth certificate. Pierre
Not that Lucy had really expected that he would. How would he have explained that to Ginger and the umpteen relatives the two of them had in and around the county? But even though Dick wasn’t paying child support, he had given her a job at his new charter school. Granted, it wasn’t much of a job but it kept a roof over their heads and paid for little
’s day care. Pierre
After finishing her coffee, Lucy woke
up and got him ready for day care. “Mommy,” Pierre said as they drove to the Kiddie
Kollege, “do I have a daddy?” Pierre
Lucy felt a flash of acid shoot up her throat.
hadn’t asked her that question before. “Of course you do, honey. Everyone has a
“Where is my daddy?”
Lucy thought frantically. She couldn’t tell her three year old son that his father was her boss. How could she explain that? What would she say? I’m sorry, baby, but Mommy was kind of a tramp for a while and your daddy is this fat, old bastard who signs my paycheck every week.
Pierre might tell his teacher, Miss Susan, that and it would be all over town. “Your daddy is dead,” she
“Yes, I’m sorry to tell you that, sweetie, but he died in a terrible farming accident.” I’m going straight to hell for lying to my child.
Lucy glanced over at
He didn’t seem too broken up. “Yes,” she elaborated, “he died before you were
born but I know he loved you very, very much.” Some day she’d tell him the
truth but not now. It would be much better for both of them if she waited until
Pierre was grown and couldn’t be scarred too much by the knowledge that his
biological father was the local lothario who had a permanent case of the clap
and who cared as much about his own child as he might about a dead skunk. Pierre
“Can we have pizza for dinner?”
“Of course!” Lucy agreed. “We can have anything you want,
.” And she meant it. If it took every
last cent she ever earned, her son was
never going to want for anything. Pierre
Lucy was still stewing over
sudden question about his paternity as she pulled into the parking lot at work. Quickly she scanned the cars and saw that all of the other new employees were there. Dick’s
enormous Ford truck overshadowed all the other cars and was parked across four spaces so Lucy had to park her own 1974 Nova in the
students’ parking lot. Dan was such a selfish, thoughtless jerk. Honestly,
someone would be doing the world a favor if they just whacked the guy. Pierre
She was opening her office door when another new employee, Greg Ingersoll, appeared out of nowhere. “Good morning, Lucy.”
Lucy tried to sound pleasant. “Hello, Greg.”
“How’s your son?” Greg smirked.
Lucy didn’t answer him. She knew that Greg was well aware of who Pierre’s father was—the little creep was Dick’s right hand and the two had a history that went back to when Greg was a Cub Scout and Dick was his Troop Leader—and Lucy resented the way Greg treated her like a two dollar tootsie. “I wonder if it’s going to rain today,” she said pleasantly.
“Snow is more like it,” Greg replied. “After all, it is December and we do live in
everything going with Dick these days?” Minnesota
“I hear you two aren’t getting along.”
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Oh, you know how it is at any job. We all know what’s going on with each other.”
“I never know what’s going on.”
“Well, I mean the salaried staff,” Greg corrected himself.
Lucy gritted her teeth. She’d worked at places where the hourly staff and the salaried staff were treated differently but her new job at Schuyler Square Charter School made those places look like models of Utopian Ideals of Democracy. “Dick and I are getting along fine.”
“I heard you told Millie that you hoped Dick would drop dead.” Greg said conversationally.
Lucy almost dropped her lunch bag. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Greg smirked again. “You’d better watch it, Lucy. The other guys on the staff might think you’re one hot mama but you don’t fool me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that if I were you I’d keep my resume up to date. Dick’s not going to be in charge around here forever.” Greg winked at her and for a moment looked so much like Judy Garland in drag that Lucy almost expected him to break into a chorus of Over the Rainbow. She watched as he vanished down the hall toward his classroom.
Dick appeared behind her. “Why are you blocking the doorway?” he asked. “You make a better door than a window, you know.”
“Dick, Greg just said something to me that I have no idea how he could have heard. I think my office is bugged.”
Dick’s laugh was short and ugly. “You are paranoid. What’s the matter with you? Why the hell would anyone around here be interested in anything you have to say?”
Dick had a point. The school staff was interested primarily in themselves and Lucy didn’t doubt that none of them gave a collective rat’s behind about what she said in private. Still, it was more than a little strange how Greg was able to quote her exactly.
I suppose I’d better stop going around saying how much I hope Dick Thomas dies a horrible, painful death. With my luck the old pervert will be murdered and I’ll be blamed for it.
“Are you planning on moving any time soon?” Dick asked. "You've got a lot of work waiting on your desk, you know."
Lucy swept into her office. Greg had been right about one thing; the time had come to dust off her resume. She might have just started her new job but she could already see that she'd never be able to stay there forever.